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Film History Curriculum


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#1 David Sweetman

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 03:14 PM

I'm interested in seeing what you think should be covered in a film history class - not just specific films to be shown, but also in regards to technology, interpretation, theory, and style. Also, which texts would you choose for the class? Kind of a broad question, I know, mostly I'm just looking for what is most important in the history of film.
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#2 Jason Debus

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 03:27 PM

Also, which texts would you choose for the class?

For history of narrative film our school uses this one:

A History of Narrative Film, Fourth Edition

It's pretty comprehensive with names, techniques, films, and technology. It's strictly narrative film though so it doesn't cover documentaries.
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#3 Douglas Hunter

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 03:44 PM

I'm interested in seeing what you think should be covered in a film history class - not just specific films to be shown, but also in regards to technology, interpretation, theory, and style. Also, which texts would you choose for the class? Kind of a broad question, I know, mostly I'm just looking for what is most important in the history of film.


For my money I've always been disapointed when film history classes have a narrow focus on the industrial film practices that became instutionalized for the sake of creating Hollywood narrative films. This is to say that there are many film histories not one, so to say that something is "most important" depends very much on one's social, aesthetic, historical values and areas of interest.

Do you want to learn about Hollywood musicals, Post war Soviet cinema, the American avant-garde, lesbian and feminist cinema, televison journalism, African cinema, the role of avant gade filmmakers in hollywood film making, grass roots cinema, home movies, etc? That's just naming a few, no class or book is capable of dealing with them all. There are some good books that cover some topics individually but not as many as one would hope.

Same goes for interpertation, theory and style. But the bigger problem here is that most production students hate film theory because it appears too far removed from the pragmatics of being on set and getting a job, so they reject it on that level alone. Toss in the fact that it takes a lot of effort to get the intellectual back ground necessary to understand it and they roll their eyes and try to get into another class. However the usefullness of applied aesthetics courses would (I hope) be self evident to any production students. Bruce block's book the Visual Story is the best text out there in that regard. Its to the point and rigorous but it takes a reader with imagination to take the principles in it and apply them well to making a film.
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#4 Alex Wuijts

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 08:28 AM

Bordwell en Thompsons 'Film History' and 'Film Art' are pretty common here. You get a very good idea of specific films, technology, interpretation and style. Alhough Bordwell and Thompson have given these books a theoretical basis related to Russian Formalism, it's not really apparent, i think. I don't think theory should be discussed in film history class, but i think film history should be discussed in film theory class haha.
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#5 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 31 October 2006 - 10:49 AM

"Film Style & Technology" By Barry Salt is required reading for this subject. Truly fascinating, informative and well illustrated.
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